The Empire Theatre, situated between French Street and Bugle Street, was a pioneer of Southampton cinema. It was built on the site of the old Theatre Royal when that building burned down in 1884. After a complete rebuild, it re-opened in 1886 as a music hall called the Empire Palace Theatre of Variety. It was converted to a cinema in November 1908, simply called the Empire Theatre. It was never a fashionable venue, and increased competition forced its closure in 1925.

Empire Theatre

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.1910

See also

Further reading:
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p95-98. (HS/h)
History of Southampton’s Theatres and Music Halls 1766-1960, by Eric Harris. (HS/r)
‘Decline and Fall of the Downtown Empire’, by John Edgar Mann, in Hampshire, volume 34, number 9, July 1994, p47. (H/y)


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